Residence: New York
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/31/2019
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Italian
Scalille is an Italian dessert that is usually made and served during Christmas time. Scalille in Calabrese dialect means little ladders or little stairs, and it is made of dough that is twisted a few times to create the shape of ladders. The ladder is meant to symbolize the ladder in which one may travel to heaven and be a servant to God. Because it connects heaven and earth, angels are able to travel down the ladders as well to do God’s work on earth.
The interlocutor mentioned this particular dish as a Christmas dessert that he has enjoyed throughout many holidays spent with his family, especially as he played a partially active role in the kitchen making the scalille. Both of his grandmothers have made scalille and have passed down the process to him. His knowledge of the biblical connotations of scalille originates in his Italian Catholic faith, as well as the lore surrounding the making of scalille. He regards this dessert as one of his favorite aspects of the holiday season, especially the process of making it with his family. An interesting aspect of the interlocutor’s relationship to this dessert is his strong identification with its divine implications, as he adopted a sort of reverent tone when relaying the biblical meaning behind scalille. This reverence was carried into his mentioning of making it with family members as well, which illustrates the importance of both religion and family through Italian holiday celebrations.
Italian culture largely involves the influence of religion into its identity, especially during times of religious celebration due to the fact that Christianity remains a particularly dominant religion in Italy. An interpretation of the religious connotation with this dessert can assert Italian desire to connect with heaven during a special time, as well as the desire to associate oneself as a servant of God. Scalille can connect two worlds together, providing consolation and peace during a special time of the year.